Paul Lewis

 

discography

Brahms Piano Concerto no.1 in D minor op.15

 

Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra

Daniel Harding - Conductor

 

Brahms - Four Ballades op.10

Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition - Schumann Fantasie op.17

  

Schubert Piano Works vol.3

 

Schubert - Piano Works vol.2

Schubert - Piano Works

RECORDING OF THE MONTH - GRAMOPHONE, FEBRUARY 2012

Following his Beethoven immersion on record, Paul Lewis returns to Schubert, some of whose sonatas he set down a decade or so ago for Harmonia Mundi, and project left tantalisingly hanging in the air. Well, it was worth the wait. In the intervening time, he has developed into arguably the finest Schubert interpreter of his generation....

Time and again you marvel at the confidence and sureness of Lewis's playing, combined with the finesse and musicality the he has always displayed. It's the kind of playing, in fact, where comparisons cease to matter... In the first movement of the D major sonata D.850, Lewis really brings out the Beethovenian panache of the writing. Few drive through those opening chords with quite as much conviction...

Harriet Smith, Gramophone

 

Seven years have passed since Paul Lewis's last solo Schubert recording, and this latest collection coincides with his continuing series of Schubert recitals. It groups together the three sonatas of 1825 and 1826 – the earliest of them, in C major D840 just a two-movement torso, the others, in D major D850 and G major D894, perhaps the greatest of all the Schubert sonatas before the final trilogy.

As Lewis's legions of admirers would expect, they are all superbly well played, with the same clarity and careful attention to every detail that is also lavished on the Four Impromptus of D899 and the three very late piano pieces D946.

Unlike some of Lewis's more recent Beethoven performances, there's nothing over emphatic here; he nudges the first movement of the G major Sonata into motion with great tact, neither making it seem rushed nor lapsing into Richter-style immobility, just as he plays down the assertiveness of the first movement of the C major, never allowing his tone to acquire a steely edge. It's a fine, thoughtful set.

Andrew Clements - The Guardian

 

Mr. Lewis, the superb English pianist who has spent much of the last decade performing and recording Beethoven, is now focusing on Schubert. In this set he offers richly nuanced, soulful renditions of the Sonatas in C (D. 840), D (D. 850) and G (D. 894), the Impromptus (D. 899) and the Klavierstücke (D. 946), all fine examples of his compelling artistry.

Vivien Schweitzer - New York Times

 

Schubert - Schwanengesang


Mark Padmore's astute handling of the text combined with the emotionally penetrating accompaniment by Paul Lewis, make for an interpretation that wipes the slate clean and resets the bar a few notches higher... Music making of the highest order by two accomplished individuals who, when working together, create a force to be reckoned with.

JEAN-YVES DUPERRON - CLASSICAL MUSIC SENTINEL

Beethoven

Beethoven - Diabelli Variations

DISC OF THE MONTH - BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE, JULY 2011

 

Let me shout this loud: here is one of the great Beethoven performances of the age, from one of the greatest Beethoven pianists of our time...Lewis's fantastic performance is distinguished above all by his complete understanding of late Beethoven: it is in every page and phrase of this phenomenal performance. (Michael Tumelty, The Herald)

Surely Lewis is the finest Beethoven pianist of his generation. (IRR Outstanding, International Record Review)

Nothing in music is more exhilarating than a good performance of the Diabelli Variations, and this one is exceptionally good ­- torrential but controlled, and intensely lyrical. Never has Beethoven's monument to creative invention seemed less forbidding. In Lewis's hands, it gives the sense despite all its intellectual mastery of being like a gigantic piece of improvisation. From the first variation, where Lewis's voicing of the chords brings out their changing harmonies, the interpretation carries superb conviction. The varied pauses between variations enhance the sense of drama...The disc is a delight. (David Cairns, The Sunday Times)

Lewis's interpretation mixes high drama and poetic aplomb characteristics of a serious musician, flexing his muscles. (Geoff Brown, The Times)

Mr Lewis keeps all options open in his elegant, sly and richly characterized performance, providing rollicking humor in the clattering 16th variation, infectious exuberance in the cascading 18th variation, and mystery in the harmonically searching time-stands-still variation that follows. Mr. Lewis takes a bracing tempo in the fugue, played with punchy attacks and admirable clarity. His way with the flighty, delicate final minuet variation is especially beguiling. Mr. Lewis again proves himself a major Beethoven interpreter. (Anthony Tommasini, New York Times)

In a follow-up to his refreshing recordings of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas and five piano concertos, the British pianist Paul Lewis has now turned to Beethoven’s other great piano score –- the 33 variations on a waltz by one Anton von Diabelli. And not a minute too soon. His sparkling tone reminds us that Beethoven was inspired by a dance tune in a popular style. Even the most intense variations never lose their lilt. (Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times)

The playing possesses all the dynamism and discretion, the insight and immediacy, that Lewis poured into that grand project of encompassing all 32 of the sonatas, and is essential listening. Right from the burst of energy and innocence that Lewis brings to the theme itself, he is a master of characterisation, pointing up Beethoven’s inventiveness as well as his architectural acumen, and playing with palpable concentration and, in the slower variations, with sublime intensity. (Geoffrey Norris, The Telegraph)

Lewis is a pianist's pianist, one who understands the weight and significance of every note. This is particularly apparent in the finely-gauged slow variations towards the end of the set. In between these he floats the complex weave of Variation 20, with billowing rubato, perfectly catching what his teacher, Alfred Brendel, once described as "Gentle Grief". Lewis' Variation 10 is a rush of irrepressible mirth; his Variation 14 - titled Intermezzo (to Brahms) - could blend with the younger composer's Opus 117. The team at Harmonia Mundi have excelled themselves with a recording exemplary in its clarity and presence. (William dart, New Zealand Herald)

Pour réellement apprécier les Variations Diabelli, il vous faut un interprète assez humble pour traduire sans la trahir l'incroyable variété des rythmes et des styles que le compositeur a couchés sur le papier. Cet enregistrement de Paul Lewis s'inscrit par sa plasticité dans la continuité de son intégrale des 32 sonates. Comme Beethoven qui, pas une fois au long des 33 variations, ne se répète, le pianiste passe de l'une à l'autre en changeant constamment l'éclairage, comme s'il jouait à présenter le même objet sous un angle toujours différent, en révélant une nouvelle dimension du même univers. Pour respecter le plan de l'oeuvre, il sait toutefois garder bien ouvertes toutes les avenues disponibles. Et la vraie beauté de la chose, c'est qu'on y croit tout au long. (Richard Boisvert, Le Soleil)

Schubert - Piano Duets

Steven Osborne and Paul Lewis - Piano Duet

 

"From the opening thunderclap of the 'Lebensstürme' it is clear that great things are in store. As furiously impassioned a movement as Schubert ever wrote, the piece poses some of the thorniest ensemble challenges to be found among the duet works … Lewis and Osborne meet these demands with one heart and one mind and doing so, moreover, with an audacity that doesn't sacrifice a single degree of the work's molten intensity … No one with a taste for superlative, passionately committed music-making, ensemble of the highest calibre or some of Schubert's most beautiful musc can afford to miss this one"

International Record Review

Schubert - Die Schöne Müllerin

Tenor: Mark Padmore

 

"Following their exceptional Winterreise and now this equally fine Die schöne Müllerin, tenor Mark Padmore and pianist Paul Lewis may be on their way to cornering the Schubert Lieder franchise for the foreseeable future. Besides being the most lyrically beautiful modern rendition of this oft-recorded cycle, the recording is a model of clear, natural presentation of voice and piano in a very complementary acoustic.

You probably have another version or two of this essential work; but you still absolutely need this one."

David Vernier, Classics Today

Beethoven - Complete Piano Concertos

Paul Lewis, Jiri Belohlavek

BBC Symphony Orchestra

 

Mr. Lewis has been reaching his full potential in recent years. At 38 he is a major pianist, and his new recordings of the five Beethoven piano concertos, with Jiri Belohlavek conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra are exceptionally fine. These are freshly considered, elegant and engrossing performances.

He brings a wonderful balance of integrity and imagination to his Beethoven playing. He does not dazzle you with virtuosity. His nimble and articulate finger work is always at the service of his musical ideas: to me the definition of good technique. While utterly respectful of the scores, he plays with such spontaneity that these familiar staples seem newly astonishing.

Though the catalog of Beethoven concerto recordings is crowded, this new set is an exciting addition.

Anthony Tommasini, New York Times October 2010

 

So much light and shade, so much care and finesse, so much implication and suggestion; you end up with an uncannily clear picture of Beethoven the 18th-century composer on the brink of major stylistic upheaval.  It's a long way from the stereotypical image of Beethoven as a tub-thumping eccentric."

Andrew Mellor, Disc of the Month, Classic FM Magazine, October 2010

 

Throughout the cycle Lewis is enviably and naturally true to his own distinctive lights, his unassuming but shining musicianship always paramount....  And so, all in all, these records take their place among the finest Beethoven piano concerto performances so that even when you recall beloved issues by Wilhelm Kempff, Emil Gilels, Radu Lupu and Murray Perahia, Lewis ensures that you return refreshed and with a renewed sense of Beethoven’s range and beauty. This is a cycle to live with and revisit.

Bryce Morrison, Recording of the Month, Gramophone September 2010

Schubert

Winterreise

Tenor: Mark Padmore

“The piano is superbly recorded. Lewis’ playing is amazing without ever drawing attention to itself, full of sudden gleams of insight…”

Piers Burton-Page, International Record Review, November 2009

Harmonia Mundi HMU907484

 

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS 2010 - BEST SOLO VOCAL RECORDING

Beethoven

Complete Beethoven Sonatas

10-CD Set

"There are many prized recordings of the Beethoven sonatas from past masters and current artists. But if I had to recommend a single complete set, I would suggest Mr. Lewis’s distinguished recordings."   Anthony Tommasini,  New York Times

"One of the most highly prized recording marathons of recent years....  An unmissable benchmark."   Gramophone  

 

“This is playing of breathtaking beauty and skill, reminiscent in some ways of Brendel and Kempff yet always unique. It is pianism worthy of the accolades it has received, making this an obvious recommendation as a Beethoven piano set to own.”

Mike Birman, Audition Audiophile


 Harmonia Mundi HMX 2901902.11

Beethoven

Piano Sonatas #1

No.16 in G major Op.31 no.1,
No.17 in D minor Op.31 no.2 ‘The Tempest’
No.18 in E flat major op.31 no.3

Harmonia Mundi HMC 901902

Beethoven

Piano Sonatas #2

No.8 in C minor Op.13 ‘Pathétique’
No.9 in E major Op.14 No.1
No.10 in G major Op.14 No.2
No.11 in B flat major Op.22
No.21 in C major Op.53 ‘Waldstein’
No.24 in F sharp MajorOp.78
No.25 in G Major Op.79 ‘Alla tedesca’
No.27 in E minor Op.90,
No.28 in A Major Op.101
No.29 in B flat Op.106 ‘Hammerklavier’

Harmonia Mundi HMC 901903.05 (3 cds)

CD OF THE MONTH GRAMPHONE

Beethoven

Piano Sonatas #3

No.1 in F minor Op.2 No.
No.2 in A major Op.2 No.2
No.3 in C major Op.2 No.3
No.4 in E flat Major Op.7
No.22 in F major Op.54
No.23 in F minor Op.57 ‘Appassionata’
No.12 in A flat major Op.26 ‘Marcia Funebre’
No.13 in E flat major Op.27 No.1‘Quasi una Fantasia’
No.14 in C sharp minor Op.27 No.2 ‘Moonlight’

Harmonia Mundi HMC901906.08 (3 cds)

Beethoven

Piano Sonatas #4

No.5 in C minor Op.10 No.1
No 6 in F major Op.10 No.2
No.7 in D major Op.10 No.3
No.15 in D major Op.28 ‘Pastorale’
No.19 in G minor Op.49 No.1
No.20 in G major Op.49 No.2
No.26 in E flat major Op.81a ‘Les Adieux’
No.30 in E major Op.109
No.31 in A flat major Op.110
No.32 in C minor Op.111

Harmonia Mundi HMC 901909.11 (3 cds)

Record of the year

Liszt

Piano works

Piano Sonata in B minor Nuages Gris,
Venezia, Unstern,
Four Little Pieces,
En rêve, Schlaflos, La lugubre gondola

Harmonia Mundi HMC 901845

 

EDISON AWARDS 2005 - BEST INSTRUMENTAL RECORDING

Mozart

Piano Quartets

G minor K478 and E flat K493 with the Leopold String Trio

Hyperion Records CDA67373

Schubert

Piano Sonatas

No.14 in A minor D.784
No.19 in C minor D.958

“From the first movement of the C minor Sonata you are aware of Lewis's technical polish, his dramatic sense of timing and his dynamic involvement with the music. He takes you on a journey, as all the best Schubert players do.”

Tim Parry, International Record Review, 2002

Harmonia Mundi HMA1951755

DIAPASON D'OR DE L'ANNEE 2002

Schubert

Piano Sonatas

No.20 in A major D.959
No.21 in B flat major D.960

Harmonia Mundi HMC901800

 

EDISON AWARDS 2004 - BEST INSTRUMENTAL RECORDING

Schubert

Les Pianos de la Nuit: Roque d’Antheron

6 Moments Musicaux D780
Sonata in G major “Fantasy” D894 - Live recordings

Naïve DR2102 AV 103

Schubert

The Trout Quintet D667

with the Leopold String Trio & Graham Mitchell

“A good share of the success lies with Paul Lewis. The protégé of pianist Alfred Brendel takes marked delight in tickling the keys, darting all over the place with a freshness and joy that find their parallel in the composer's seemingly unstoppable stream of brilliant melodic invention.”

Jason Victor Serinus, Bay Area Reporter, May 2006

Hyperion Records CDA67527